Monday, May 25, 2020

Minister outlines Immediate Benefit from Companies Licensed to Explore Petroleum

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By Momodou Jarju

The Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Fafa Sanyang, has informed Deputies of the National Assembly the immediate economic benefit The Gambia would derive from the companies issued with licenses for the exploration of petroleum.

In response to the question asked by the national assembly member for Serekunda, Halifa Sallah, Minister Sanyang underscored three short-term fiscal benefits for each of the licences issued.

Sanyang told deputies yesterday at the second ordinary session of the national assembly legislative year, 2019, that Block A1 licence, which is held by BP (British Petroleum) and signed in April 2019, has Annual Surface Rentals fees of 250 US dollars per square kilometre, a training and capacity building contribution of 500, 000 US dollars annually and a signature bonus of 10.1 million US dollars.      

He further said a joint venture of FAR Gambia Limited and PETRONAS, that are holding the Licence of offshore Blocks A2 and A5, have Annual Surface Rentals fees of 150 US dollars per square kilometre, a training and capacity development contribution of 200, 000 US dollars annually and a signature bonus of 1.5 million US dollars which was paid by Erin Energy in 2012.

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“In addition, the licence also makes provisions for social responsibility, employment of Gambians and procurement of Gambian goods,” he added.

On the same question and related to minerals, Minister Sanyang said currently, there is no licence issued to operators for mineral exploration in the country.

“However, it is important to note that in the past, small scale prospecting permits were granted to two local entities for the Badari area in Upper River Region namely GACH Mining Company and Touray and Brothers International. Both companies reported no findings after the expiry of their permits,” he indicated.  

During supplementary questions, Hon. Sallah asked the minister to provide them with the agreements so that they would know the real conditions that are attached since there was no elaborate presentation of those conditions in his response to his question. The minister responded in the positive to Sallah’s request which was equally seconded by the speaker of the assembly, Mariam Jack-Denton.

Banjul North deputy, Ousman Sillah, asked the energy minister whether they have issued licences to middle persons who take advantage at the expense of the state by selling licence rights to other companies that do not have the capacity to do exploration as recently reported by BBC about BP’s scandal in Senegal.

According to BBC and a local media report, BP, a British oil giant, allegedly promised to pay $10 billion to Frank Timis, “a Romanian-Australian mining tycoon whose business dealings gained international notoriety for alleged corruption, in exchange for a stake in gas licences off the coast of Senegal.” BP is the same company holding the offshore Block A1 in The Gambia.

Minister Sanyang said it depends on the contract terms, saying if one is able to negotiate the contract terms well “even if other companies come, the same term applies.”

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